The scripture for today, November 30, is Proverbs 11:30 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.“
So much said in so few words. What is it to be righteous?
First, it is to become right with God. We become right with God by washing away our sins and being reborn as Christians (John 3:16, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:4-5).
Second, we stay right with God by acting righteous, bearing the right kind of fruit in our life as listed in Galatians 5:22.
Third, we reach out to others to save their souls. We don’t wait for them to come to us. We search them out. (Remember how Jesus came to seek and save the lost ~ Luke 19:10?) People are most receptive when they are going through a problem such as physical illness. Tell them that Jesus wants to be part of their lives and help them with their problems.
The scripture for today, November 29, is Matthew 11:29f as found in the New Testament of the Bible: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Everyone has problems, and pretty much the same kinds of problems. They may be rich or they may be poor, but it happens to everyone. Just because someone smiles a lot, it does not mean their heart is not aching inside. Just because they wear nice clothes, it does not mean they are not torn with a growing crisis. Just because they live in a nice home and drive a nice car, it does not mean they are not riddled with guilt over past sinful acts.
Jesus knew this. And so he said to the world ~ to you and me ~ let’s trade. I’ll take your burden and you take mine. What is Jesus’ burden? Telling others of his love. What a wonderful trade.
So today, make that decision. Will you continue to carry your burdens and let them weigh you down so you can’t move? Or will you let go of them and smile as Jesus smiled, reach out to others as Jesus reached out, teach God’s love as Jesus did?
Jesus would not have asked you to do the impossible. It is your choice. Today let go and let God.
The scripture for today, November 28, is 1st Corinthians 11:28,31 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup [of the Lord’s Supper]….But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.”
“When they met on THE first day of the week to break bread” (Acts 20:7), these first-century Christians were meeting to keep the Lord’s Supper, for the word (“met”) in the original Greek of the New Testament meant a religious meeting. Interestingly, the word “the” in the original Greek meant each and every without exception perpetually.
Even if we did not know the Greek, look at how the Jews (and we) interpreted “Remember THE Sabbath Day to keep it holy”. They did not remember the Sabbath day monthly, quarterly or yearly, but weekly. Therefore, the first-century Christians realized that “When they met on THE first day of the week to break bread” (Acts 20:7), it meant every Sunday.
We can sing, pray, teach and read the Bible any day of the week. What makes Sunday special is that is the day we are to meet to take the Lord’s Supper, the Communion ~ the bread representing his body dying in our place, the wine representing his blood shed in our place.
During the Communion, we consider Jesus’ terrible sacrifice in order to save us from hell. And we consider our sins that made his sacrifice necessary to save us from hell.
The above scripture also tells us that. During our weekly partaking of the Communion, we should be examining ourselves, comparing ourselves to Jesus. It is kind of like taking weekly exams so we will be ready for the big final exam on the Day of Judgment.
God thought of everything ~ weekly remembering the sacrifice of our Lord so that we never take him for granted, and weekly remembering our sins. And so we fall at his feet and whisper “Thank you.”
The scripture for today, November 27, is Mark 11:27fas found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“…the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him [Jesus]. ‘By what authority are you doing those things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you authority to do this?’ “
As you learn more of the Bible, consider teaching your community’s religious leaders. Have the courage to speak up and quote something in the Bible which that church may not be following. Then, when your religious leaders go to you wanting to know by what authority you teach something new, be ready for them with the scriptures. Periodically tell them in private ~ gently and respectfully ~ again and again.
Just remember that leaders often take longer to accept a new teaching. It may take them months or years to accept it. Keep on keeping on. And be patient with them.
Pray for your community religious leaders. Ask God to touch their hearts. He will not go against their natural nature, but if they have honest hearts, it will work. Plant the seed, and God will give the increase (1st Corinthians 3:16). God said, “My Word will not return to me void” (Isaiah 55:11).
The scripture for today, November 26, isJohn 11:26as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
” ‘ And whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ “
Jesus was talking to the sister of his close friend, Lazarus, who had just died. Of course we understand he was talking about spiritual death ~ the death of our souls. And death in the original Greek means separation; so in the case of our souls, it would be separation from God.
Revelation 20:6 & 14 refer to the second death which is the lake of fire. So what is the first death of our souls?
In John 3:3 Jesus said we must be born again of water and the spirit. Romans 6:4 says “we were therefore buried with him through baptism into death [of that sinful life] in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a NEW LIFE.”
Someone has said “Born once [physically], die twice. Born twice [physically & spiritually], die once.” If we emerge from the waters of our mother’s womb, that is the first birth of our souls. If we emerge from the waters of baptism, that is our second birth.”
So when Jesus said believers would never die, he meant our souls would never die. How reassuring!
The scripture for today, November 25, is John 11:25 as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.’ “
This has always been puzzling: People who have been Christians all their lives find out from their doctor that they are going to die, and they weep and beg God to keep them alive. Why? Heaven is our final destination, not earth. We claim we want to go to heaven, but we do not want to do what is necessary to get there. Death is the door to heaven. Death is not the end, but the beginning!
Let us be willing to look death in the eye and say, “Jesus has conquered you! I will close my eyes in death and then open them again to behold my Creator and my Savior!”
The scripture for today, November 24, is Ezekiel 11:24 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“The Spirit lifted me up and brought me to the exiles in Babylonia in the vision given by the Spirit of God.”
How did the Holy Spirit move people? Not by making them fall down, but by lifting them up. Ezekiel was the prophet who experienced this most often, and the Spirit always lifted him up.
Jesus said in John 14:17 that he would send the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth. And in John 17:17 he said, “Your [God’s] Word is Truth.”
The Word of God does throw some people off, and that’s because they don’t like everything it says. So they in turn throw the Bible down. Let us be grateful for the Bible and that we do not have to guess what God is like and how he says we can live the best possible life. Let us continue to read the Word of God and let the Holy Spirit continue to lift us up.
The scripture for today, November 23, is1st Corinthians 11:23ff as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ “
How the hearts of Jesus and his closest friends must have been breaking that night. How the apostles must have struggled to hold back the tears. They all knew the religious leaders in Jerusalem were plotting to execute Jesus. They knew he was taking his life in his hands to be in the city ~ their lives too. How could they part with the one they now knew was the Son of God but also the Son of Mankind ~ their dearest friend?
When we take the communion every Sunday, where are our thoughts? What we’re going to do after church? What someone sitting near us is wearing? How the person in front of us is blocking our view?
How many of us during the communion weep as Jesus’ apostles must have wept ~ and perhaps even as Jesus himself wept?
Oh, Jesus, it was my sins that caused you to go through that horrible death! My punishment! I fall at your feet. I am so sorry.
The scripture for today, November 22, is Genesis 11:22 as found in the Old Testament of the Bible:
“When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.”
How can it be that people could live so long in the early centuries of the world? Isn’t that stretching things a bit? Isn’t it just folklore? Here’s more.
Noah had his first son at age 502 (Genesis 5:32, 11:10). Noah lived a total of 950 years (Genesis 9:29). Noah’s son, Shem, had his first son at age 100, and lived a total of 600 years (Genesis 11:10-11). Now we have Serug, the 7th-generation grandson of Noah, who had his first son at age 30 and lived a total of 230 years (see above).
Do you see the trend downward of ages after the flood? Most of Noah’s life was lived before the flood. Some of Shem’s life was lived before, but most of it was after the flood. All of Serug’s life was after the flood.
Many scientists believe that the earth originally had a constant cloud covering like the planet Venus does. Genesis 2:5-6 says it had not rained yet, but a mist rose to water everything. The King James Version of the Bible regarding the flood in Genesis 7:11 says the windows of heaven were opened. Genesis 8:2 says the windows of heaven were stopped.
Notice, it did not say the windows of heaven were closed; they were just stopped, meaning it could rain again periodically after that. If, indeed, Earth did have a constant thick cloud covering before the flood, then humans would have been protected from radiation from the sun, and therefore could live longer. After the change in Earth’s atmosphere after the flood, humans being exposed to more radiation, would have lived shorter lives.
Something to think about… And, one more thought ~ rainbows wouldn’t be possible with a constant cloud covering. The flood brought us rainbows! (Genesis 9:13)
The scripture for today, November 21, is Acts 11:21as found in the New Testament of the Bible:
“The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.”
What had just happened? Some Christians in Phoenecia (today’s Lebanon), Cyprus (the Mediterranean Island) and Cyrene (in today’s North Africa), went to Antioch in Northern Syria near the southern border of today’s Turkey. There they established a congregation.
This little congregation ended up being the home congregation of Paul and Barnabas for many years. It started small; we don’t know the size it grew to. Regardless of the size, it had foresight and eventually did great things.
Perhaps you live in a town full of churches, but you’ve compared them with the New Testament, and none of them follows that pattern. Perhaps you have even given up going to church because of this problem. What is stopping you from beginning a little congregation after the New Testament pattern in your home?
New Testament churches were simple ~ not elaborate like those mega-churches out there. And those simple churches have always been dynamic in their simplicity. Who knows but that your new little congregation will some day produce a Paul or a Barnabas…